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Posting is dead… Long live posting!

As traditional postcard publisher J. Salmon announces that it will be closing its doors, 44’s Emily Gravenor bids a fond farewell to the holiday must-have and wonders how relevant this is to internal communications…

It was with some satisfaction that I picked a postcard featuring a matador’s bottom, clad in flamboyant red trousers, from the racks of a postcard shop in Cádiz, thinking about how it would make my stepmum smile when it landed on her doormat.

It wasn’t merely the image itself; I was thoroughly enjoying the process of choosing holiday postcards – one of the cathedral for my granny, a shot of the seafront for my mum and some cute Spanish cats for my friend. Buying postcards is great, I thought. I haven’t done this for ages! This is exactly how holidays should be.

As the days went on, the appeal of the postcards began to wane. Firstly, writing them was a bit of a pain. What was the point of needlessly bragging that I’d been swimming in the sea and eating tapas, especially when I’d already captured these moments, with nice filters, on Instagram?

Looking forward

Next came the posting itself. My auntie had spotted a letterbox shaped like a lion’s head, so that was something to look forward to, but first we had to negotiate some awkward conversations about sellos (stamps) in a postcard shop and then overcome the fact that we kept forgetting to take them out of the apartment with us. We had to get the news out there so people knew we were swimming in the sea and eating tapas. But when?

Back home, holiday over, I told my mum that I’d sent her a postcard, thinking I’d at least get thoughtful daughter points out of it. A funny snort came in reply. “How quaint”, she said, in the thoroughly disparaging way that only someone who finally mastered a smartphone last year could manage.

Doomed to obscurity

Then at work I was forwarded an email about the death of the postcard. It’s official: I’d posted a relic from the past. Postcards are now so outdated they’re doomed to obscurity. The Telegraph reported that J. Salmon, Britain’s oldest postcard publisher, is closing after almost 140 years because of the effect of social media and changing holiday patterns. People take shorter breaks and are back home before their postcards arrive. I thought sadly of all the postcards in shops all over the world, waiting for a buyer who was never going to come – but then realised that was a lot of trees we’d be saving in the future.

In internal communications, adapting to different ways of communicating is a must. We have to make the most of instant channels like intranets, Yammer and social media to get our clients’ messages straight into their employees’ hands. There’s no point sending the monthly results on a postcard – unless they’re something you really don’t want to brag about. And being not only adept, but innovative, at providing digital solutions for our clients is one of the things we’re good at here at 44. Hear it from Tom, our Head of Innovation and Insight, if you don’t believe me…

Instant channels

Of course, when it comes to postcards, Instagram and social media have replaced them completely. And one month on, the matador’s bottom and my other labours of love still haven’t arrived. Maybe I got the word for stamps wrong, maybe the lion’s head wasn’t really a postbox, or maybe they just became a defunct form of communication while in transit and were removed from circulation.

Thank goodness for my Instagram feed so I could prove I’d really been on holiday.

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